Why do we keep eating some foods even though we know they’re bad for us? The reason: certain foods can be addictive, with scientific research to prove it. According to a 2015 study from the University of Michigan, researchers identified these 20 popular foods, in order of the lowest to highest, as being the most addictive.
Eggs have plenty of health benefits and are a great source of protein, along with vitamin B2, selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Eggs can also prove to be addictive, and eating too many can cause cholesterol levels to soar through the roof — and that’s no yolk.
Anyone who’s ever grabbed a handful of nuts, and then another, and another, can attest to their addictive properties.
Yes, that harmless-looking muffin may be drawing you into its addictive web. Instead of trying to fight it or going cold turkey, try making your own muffins with whole grains and other nutritious ingredients.
A thick, juicy steak can be addictive because the blood in red meat contains albumin, hemoglobin and gamma globulin, chemicals that activate the body’s opioid receptors — just like heroin, albeit on a far smaller scale.
The more sugar we eat, the more we want to eat, because it has the same effect on our brains as addictive substances such as nicotine and cocaine. Those chewy little candies are loaded with sugar, which is why it’s nearly impossible to eat just one.
Wheat-based cereal typically contains gliadin, a protein that has a similar effect on the body as opiates.
14. Buttered Popcorn
Foods with high fat content and/or refined carbohydrates, such as buttered popcorn at the movie theatre, are found to be associated with addictive eating behaviours.
Wheat typically contains gliadin, a protein that has a similar effect on the body as opiates — which explains why we keep reaching for that basket of dinner roles even though we know we shouldn’t.
12. Fried Chicken
If you’re powerless to resist the lure of crispy fried chicken, don’t blame Col. Sanders — blame your brain.According to a recent study, the large amounts of salt that make fried chicken so delicious has the same affect on the brain as cigarettes and hard drugs. If only there was a rehab for fried chicken…
Is bacon awesome because it’s addictive or addictive because it’s awesome? While we may never know the answer to that chicken-and-egg-style question, we do know that a recent study found that fatty foods such as bacon have a similar effect on the brains of lab rats as heroin and cocaine.
A 2015 scientific study identified the proteins in cheese, called caseins, contain a substance called casomorphins, which hits triggers in the brain in much the same way as opiates.
Sweets and baked goods contain a high glycemic load, which means they are packed with sugar, thus causing a spike in blood sugar.
8. Non-Diet Soda
Most soda is not only loaded with sugar, it also contains caffeine — which is why soda is doubly addictive.
There’s no denying the combination of a fluffy bun, juicy burger and melted cheese is mouth-wateringly delicious. But that same combination (salt, wheat and fat) makes this an addictive — and wildly unhealthy — food choice, especially if it’s an ultra-processed fast food burger.
6. French Fries
Have you ever tried to eat just one French fry? Don’t beat yourself up; a 2011 study in The Journal of Neuroscience found that the salt and fat in this fast-food favourite elevates levels of the hormone oxytocin (sometimes called the “love hormone”), which reduces stress and eases anxiety, especially in social situations. Bottom line: if you’re feeling nervous, eating French fries will make you feel better — just not about your weight.
5. Ice Cream
A 2011 study found that eating ice cream creates a euphoric feeling by causing the body to release dopamine. Unfortunately, in much the same way heroin addiction works, the more ice cream you eat, the less euphoria you feel, meaning ice cream addicts must consume increasingly larger amounts just to get that same ice cream “high.”
Could it really be possible that cookies are more addictive than crack? That’s the finding of a recent study in which lab rats were given cocaine and Oreos, and appeared to like the cookies better. The reason: “Oreos activated significantly more neurons” than cocaine.
Loaded with addictive fat and salt, the Lay’s potato chip company knew what they were talking about when they coined the iconic advertising tagline “Betcha can’t eat just one.”
The term “chocoholic” has more truth to it than you might realize. Chocolate contains several substances that have addictive properties, including sugar and tryptophan, which triggers serotonin, resulting in a happy, elevated mood.
And the number one most addictive food is good ol’ pizza! According to a 2015 study ranking the most addictive foods, pizza was dubbed the single most “problematic” food “as indicated by addictive-like eating behaviours described in the YFAS (Yale Food Addiction Scale).”
Brent Furdyk is a freelance writer in Vancouver.